Europe looks hopefully past infection rates to reopen economies

The EU’s biggest countries are lifting coronavirus restrictions in the hope that accelerating vaccination programmes will allow a speedier return to normal life. But epidemiologists worry the shift is coming too soon and that progress could yet be reversed.

Over little more than a week, France lifted its travel ban, Spain allowed its six-month old “state of alert” to lapse and Germany eased lockdown. Italy has also steadily loosened restrictions over the past month, with people anticipating returning soon to gyms and indoor pools.

Although the EU’s infections have roughly halved from early April, they remain high in some places, with hospitals under pressure and deaths per week still numbering roughly 1,500 in France and Italy, 1,000 in Germany, and around 600 in Spain.

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